Review of the 2006 West Coast Salsa Congress
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Written by Azucena Perez   
Sunday, 25 June 2006
This year the West Coast Salsa Congress was full of talent, great live music, and camarederie. However, it would be the last time that Albert Torres builds Salsa Land outdoors...

The West Coast Salsa congress was my first congress back in 2004. Mitch Sengsun had invited me to join him (and a group of salseros from Austin) and I accepted without hesitation. I have to thank him for enticing me to explore the world of salsa outside of Austin. This past May 2006, was my third time in L.A., though this time Carlos and I as performers and with the entire trip paid (yes!), courtesy of Jorge Mercado and the Houston Salsa Dancers. Thank you very much Jorge, for the wonderful opportunity!

However, many things hadn’t changed in the way the congress was set up. First of all, the dance floors (outdoors) were built on top of a parking lot that was not even, so you’d see all the ladies spinning sideways, as a result of the slanted floor! Even the stage where we performed was slightly slanted which made the performance even more interesting for us. Needless to say, Salsa Land was big, crowded, but very animated. Dancers from all over the world had come together to dance, perform, and teach or take workshops. But Albert Torres warned us that this was the last time he builds Salsa Land due to financial issues. Instead, next year he will have the congress inside a hotel, and according to him it will be limited to 3000 people. 

Though social dancing was non-existent for Carlos and I due to the crowdedness and slanted floors, we had a lot more fun socializing with our friends from the Bay Area, John and Liz and the Salsamania crew, Junior and Emily, the guys from Salsa y Control, Sekou and the Descarga Caribe crew, and all the performers back stage. It was one of those few times where we enjoyed being backstage more than actually on stage.

Our performance went pretty well; better than we thought given the fact that the routine is still really new for us. But the cool thing was hearing Albert Torres himself introduce us: “My favorite couple to work with from Texas, Carlos and Azucena from Jazzy Dance Company”. That made it all worth it for us!! Since I was seriously having a nervous attack before going on stage; that and the cheer from our friends helped me get through it. There’s something about performing in the biggest congress in the world that scared the living soul out of me! Carlos was so sweet trying to calm me down and cheer me up. I couldn't have asked more from a dance partner, he was 100% there for me and for us. Thank you baby!

What was the best part of the congress?

1) Seeing our software product, Salsa Grooves, being sold at the Salsamania stand! Also seeing a lot of interest from promoters in the UK and Philadelphia to distribute our software in their events. Check it out here.

2) Meeting Tito and Tamara from Puerto Rico. We took their workshop (on2) and also took a private with them. It was humbling to watch them do pieces of our routine, only 10 times better than us! They are amazing dancers, instructors, and performers and not only that, they were also super professional and very friendly.

3) The other cool part of the congress was watching Alex Da Silva social dance and compete with his new dance partner (an amazingly flexible dancer from Cuba, wow!!). They tore the floor up with amazing moves from tango, swing, Latin ballroom, and of course salsa. It was truly a show not to be missed. They got first place in the cabaret division so they’ll be going to the World Salsa Championships in December. Check out part of the video in our gallery.

Last but not least, we had a great time with our good friend Nicholas Matlis from Austin who at the last minute decided to stay in L.A. after attending a conference in Physics, of all things! Did you all know he’s doing a Ph.D in Physics? Amazing!
We’ll soon post a video of our performance and pictures from the congress on our webiste.

Thanks for reading and keep on dancing!

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